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American Eagle's kids fashion line, 77Kids just opened the doors of its high-tech and interactive Manhattan location in the lower level of the Times Square AE store today and Racked popped by for a sneak peek at everything the brand and the 77kids NYC Style Lab had to offer. The 77kids and little77 lines—while too small for us—are a fun option for the 10-and-under crowd with rock and roll sensibilities. The store itself provided plenty of fun and games, from a candy dispenser to a virtual turntable where smart shoppers can spin their favorite tunes.
We caught up with Betsy Schumacher, the senior vice president and chief merchandising officer for 77kids, to get more insight into the brand and its nationwide expansion.
Racked National: Will these type of interactive stores for 77kids be implemented throughout the country?
Betsy Schumacher: All of our stores have some of the elements in them, like the goodie bar and the demin canyon and the interactive touch screens. But there are some New York-special products available only here and online.
RN: Will this type of model be incorporated into other AE stores?
BS: We have them now. This is our 22nd store in 11 states.
RN: Why did AE want to start reaching out to a younger market through 77kids?
BS: The customer asked for it. The moms are asking for it. A lot of our moms have older and younger kids.
RN: How will the merchandise at 77kids differ from what is sold in AE stores?
BS: We draw our heritage from the main brand. We're about great demin, amazing graphic t's and hoodies. We trust it to be about the kid.
RN: What type of mother is this brand targeting?
BS: We don't think about age in that way. This is for moms who care about fashion, about fun.
RN: What can people expect out of this new brand?
BS: All of our clothing is guaranteed 77 washes. The important thing for us is the mom starts with quality and durability, and at the same time she wants her kids to look cool.
RN: The clothing here is a little different from the AE line, it's a little punk rock. What was the inspiration behind the look?
BS: There's a lot of rock influence in fashion now. The brand itself is about music. It's about what's going on in fashion. The brand to me is just truly kid.
RN: Why is the interactive element of the store important?
BS: A mom told us shopping was not fun, and we wanted to make it fun. When you are about kids, you have to look at what kids are into, and today they are into Wii, Xbox, Playstations. Kids are into technology.
Schumacher left us with one final thought about the 77kids NYC Style Lab: "You can come in here and see this store and be distracted by all the cool things there are to do. But we're all about the clothes." —Katie Gonzalez
· American Eagle [Official Site]